Pastors hurt people at times, sometimes unknowingly other times uncaringly and sadly, sometimes, even purposely. One of the most common and disheartening aspects of the days we live in is to hear how people walked away from church because of the actions of a church leader that wounded them and left them disenfranchised to the point of having a crisis of faith. I want to say two things to those who have been hurt by the sinful actions of pastor or church leader and the first is this; Don’t blame God for what people have done. That “freewill” thing we talk about in church is not strictly a matter of how one comes to faith but the truth is God does not force people to obey Him and people in ministry or leadership positions can “flesh out” just like anyone else. The pastor and church leaders are fallible human beings. They make mistakes, they still battle their flesh and they are as human as anyone else. I say this not in their defense or as a cop out, but I say this in hopes of reminding those hurt by a church leader to remember they weren’t hurt by God and there is no reason to walk away from Him because of what a fallible human did. This is one of the most important lessons we can take away from the Bible is that God’s chosen people do stupid, selfish, mean-spirited, prideful and self-promoting and even lustful things at times and God is responsible for none of them. Many times I have heard people say: I don’t go to church anymore because of what so and so did or how this leader treated me or what I heard that church leader did or said and I don’t want anything to do with a place where there are people like that! First of all consider that statement, to say you left the church because someone hurt you leaves you only in fellowship with the world where people are more ruthless and self promoting than the majority of people in the church. This is jump from the proverbial frying pan into the fire.
Secondly, for those who say I just don’t go to church anymore because I was hurt by a pastor or leader, but I am not having a crisis of faith. Let me ask you, can you say you’re still on the football team but you never go to practice or play in the games? While it is true you can love football and not play and you can not go to the games and watch them on tv, you can say and do the same with church. You can love the Lord and watch church on tv or online but let me remind you of this; Church is not “for” you, “you” are for the church. Because you are on the team you need to go to the team meetings, you need to be a part of how a church is “running plays” (outreach) in the community. You, are for the church, you have a lace and a role in a local congregation and to argue you don’t have to go to church to be part of the church might be true, but is it right?
But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you. –1 Corinthians 12:20-21
You and I are part of the global body of believers called the church, but, you also have something to contribute to a local congregation and just as no one can tell you you’re not needed at church neither can you say you don’t need church. Yes, you may be a student of the word and yes you may be faithful at witnessing and sharing your faith and these things are good, but your gifts and talents and are also needed at the local church. Isolation is never a solution when Fractured Fellowship has occurred. It’s bad for the individual and it’s bad for the church.
Excerpt from “Dancing With the Scars” now available on Amazon.